Tech stuff: Julia, Vim & Vizardry

Been doing lots of tech stuff lately. Here’s a sharing of some highlights.

Through the years I’ve been programming in more than a dozen different languages. Since many years I have more or less settled on Ruby besides my HP-41 projects programmed in FOCAL and MCODE. Now and then I get this urge to learn a new programming language, and after an extensive search for something neat, I finally landed on Julia. I’m trying her out while reading the book, “Getting started with Julia Programming Language“.

The book is good. The programming language seems excellent. It boasts a complete GitHub-based package system to extend the language with various modules. Although it’s a general purpose language, its strength lies in maths and natural sciences. It’s very fast and with a pretty clean and natural syntax. You can even do straight forward math like this:

f(x) = 2sin(3x)^2

And by then executing the function “f” with x as 0.8, you get the answer straight:

f(0.8)
0.9125010165605526

There is a chance I could be falling in love here πŸ™‚

I’ve also been doing lots of work on my Conky setup resulting in this as my “bare” desktop:

conky

If you have any questions about scripts or conky setups, just ask by leaving a comment here.

Then there is VIM – perhaps my the tool I use the most. I’ve been using VIM for writing everything from HyperLists and notes to e-mails, short stories and books since around 2001. It’s a fantstic text editor. But it lacks a good package manager for add-ons :-/

But then I found Vizardry. Using Pathogen as a base to install extensions, Vizardry will let you search for add-ons, install it with a breeze and remove it just as easily. If you’re a VIM user, this is a must. Go get it! You will thank me πŸ™‚

The dangers of comfort

I believe we have an inherent drive, a purpose. Any purpose.

A purpose needs a game. A game needs a purpose.

Without barriers, there is no drive and without a drive there is no life.

Life is fueled by accomplishment. The overcoming of barriers toward a purpose we create yields a sense of mastery, of accomplishment.

When we fulfill purposes, we create new purposes to achieve. As we realize purposes, our life becomes more accomplished, more perfected. And comfort sets in.

Johnny wants to become a physician, have a luxurious home, a great marriage and two wonderful kids. He goes through years of education, dates girls, becomes a doctor and marries Miss Right. They get two lovely kids. He’s a wonderful father and they adore him. They live in a fantastic house and life is full of comfort. Now what?

With more perfection and comfort, less purposes and excitement remains. There is freedom with less barriers and adventure, less drive and direction. There is less to live for. At that point a person can slumber in apathy or revolt by creating less positive adventures – like self-inflicted pains, drugs or criminality. Johnny starts drinking and beats Miss Right left and right. He gambles and loses the house.

What happens with individuals have parallels in societies and the World at large.

We see the dangers of comfort in our decadent Western world much like the Romans experienced in their conquered world. As our world grows less dangerous and comfort and freedom sets in, we will create new dangers to topple, or we can slide into apathy to have dangers mounting while we slumber. With less wars, population growth tapering off and with criminality rates going down, we may have to rely on global warming or artificial intelligence to keep us busy. Because perfecting society with security to iron out any possibility of terrorism will only create more comfort and less life.

Maybe the need for adventure is why we don’t see any advance alien civilizations. Maybe they bored themselves into apathy or did some crazy shit as a counter-reaction to the increasing comfort and lull.

If you can look past the terrible special effects and the cute retro scenery, this episode of Space 1999 captures the dangers of comfort in a neat way:

What should we do to have a decent game to come back to?

HP-41: The Periodic Table of Chemical Elements

Have your HP-41 right where it should be (in your hand) and unable to find the Internetz to look up nifty details of obscure chemical elements? Worry no more, the solution is here, the HP-41 program, “PERIOD”.

14LaAc_periodic_table_IIb

The program will display:

  • Atomic number, Name and Symbol
  • Group, Period and Block
  • Atomic Weight
  • Property (Alkali metal, Noble Gas, etc.)
  • Type (Gas, Liquid, Solid or Unknown)
  • Occurrence in nature (Primordial, From Decay, Synthetic)
  • Melting Point, Boiling Point (in Kelvin)
  • Year of discovery (“OLD” if known in ancient times)
  • Electron Configuration
  • Atomic Radius (empirical and calculated)
  • Origin (Big Bang, Cosmic Rays, Small & Large Stars, Large Stars, Large Stars & Super Nova, Super Nova and Man Made)

You will find the ROM pages, program listing and element details on the Github project page. It is also included in the HP Museum’s “HP-41C Software Library“. Enjoy πŸ™‚